Audrey Hepburn and How to Steal a Million

February 27, 2009

Not long after my 13th birthday, I was sitting on the couch in my living room when my mom switched the channel to AMC, which, at the time, was the only classic movie station available through our cable provider. Except for watching a few of them when I was little, I didn't have much interest in classic films at the time. But I decided to sit with her and watch AMC for the duration of whatever film happened to be playing.

That film was How to Steal a Million, and it changed my life.

A lot of people who like Audrey Hepburn or classic films often overlook this movie, so I'm actually glad that it was my introduction to the wonderful world of vintage cinema; I have a unique appreciation for it, and quite a large chunk of space is reserved for it in my heart. It's actually funny that I've turned into someone who typically avoids movies made after the 1950's, when my first foray into classic film was from 1966.... Anyway, I hope that this little review might encourage you to give it a try (if you haven't already fallen in love with it by now!)

When the movie begins, a masterpiece from the famous Bonnet art collection is up for auction. After fetching an awesome sum, Bonnet returns home to an irritated daughter (Audrey Hepburn) who is upset that, once again, her father sold one of his master forgeries to the public. What follows is a thrilling, brilliant comedy, filled with the kind of edge-of-your-seat suspense typically reserved for Hitchcock thrillers.... no murder, no killers, no espionage... just suspense, comedy, and romance.

Now putting aside for the moment how quick paced, witty and impressive the story is--one could easily be lured into watching How to Steal a Million simply by seeing who stars. Audrey Hepburn. Peter O'Toole. Charles Boyer. Eli Wallach. Hugh Griffith. Frenand Gravey. (very surprised that he was in this film, as the most recent picture of his I'd seen was made in the 1930's) Doesn't the cast alone make you want to go watch it? It should.

Audrey Hepburn amazes me in every film. I tend to like her less popular films, like this one, Paris When it Sizzles and Wait Until Dark. She's wonderful in Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany's (which I admit is among my favorites) but sometimes I think her icon status in the popular films overshadows her acting ability. In this film, she's just a joy to watch because she acts so well. You kind of forget that she's Audrey Hepburn, which is hard to do when you're watching Breakfast at Tiffany's, n'est-ce pas?

This November will be 10 years since I discovered this film. Since then, I guess it would be an understatement to say that classic film has consumed my life. But I'm oh-so glad.

What movies got you started on classic film? Was it one particular film or gradual?

The painting is 8"x8" acrylic on canvas
Remember: Everyone has until Midnight EST Feb. 27 to enter the One Month Anniversary Free Print Drawing! Just say "count me in" or something like that in the comments. Here is who has entered so far, if I missed you please let me know! caseykoester, peggy, Mina, Graciebird, Pink Dahlia, Betty Boogie, Millie, DKoren, vivienne strauss, Lauren, John Hayes, Linda Crispell, Raquelle, Nicole, Cullen Gallagher, Sarah, Desiree and Genevieve.


Cullen Gallagher said...

I remember the precise moments I became interested in classic movies. Well, movies in general. It was when I saw Vertigo and Shane, back to back, the summer before 8th grade. I had never liked movies before, and only saw them by accident. There was one of those AFI 100 greatest movie lists at the video store (where I was renting video games) and my mom decided to rent two of them. And so a light switch was turned on in my mind, and I haven't stopped watching movies since then.

DKoren said...

What a neat painting of her!!

I can't remember a time without classic movies in it. My mom and dad always watched them, so I did too, and always loved them. My first movie on the big screen was South Pacific, when it was re-released or shown in a revival theater. I was two and my mom was really worried about taking me to the movies, but my dad reassured her he'd take me out to the lobby if I cried. I'm told I sat entranced on their laps the entire time and mimicked Liat's Happy Talk hand movements. :-D I don't remember a bit of it, but I love that it was my first movie in the theater!

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Terrific painting. I love how you capture the essence of the personality in a pose.

"How to Steal a Million" is fun, and I confess a particular enjoyment of films about museum heists. I have no idea why. I think it should be a separate genre, like Westerns or Film Noir. Museum Heist Movies.

Raquel Stecher said...

I love that painting! I like the purple it goes well with Audrey. I'm sure that one will sell quickly.

I didn't care much for How to Steal a Million. I'm glad you enjoyed it though. For me it was studying Out of the Past and Citizen Kane in school that got me hooked on classic films.

I see your watching Good Neighbors, are you a British TV-phile like me??!

Millie said...

Ooh, I LOVE this movie! I watch it over and over and over again!

And, I love that painting. You perfectly caught Audrey's expression.

I don't know what film got me hooked. because I have been watching classic film since the day I was born.

Daniel Cullen said...

Hi, what fantastic artwork shown beautifully against the vibrant coloured backgrounds. I wouldn't call myself a movie buff as such but one moment from one film would be Paul Newman riding the bicycle to the tune of 'Raindrops keep falling on my head' in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.

L. said...

awesome painting. love hepburn. hmm...i've pretty much always loved classic films and tv shows 'cause my parents have always collected them:)

Sweet Pirate Betty said...

Really love this one! Lovely work! :) x

Genevieve said...

Ooh, I really like this one! It makes me happy : )

Anyways, I guess I grew up hating classic movies (weird...seeing as I'm now an addict). I'd been exposed to some of the really well known ones and then I slowly began to watch a few technicolor musicals. During my freshman year of high school, I decided to tape a movie off of TCM, "You'll Never Get Rich", which was my first black and white film. I fell in love and now I can't imagine my life without classic films.

P.S. Count me in for the drawing : )

Anonymous said...

I know how much Millie loves this movie, but I've never checked it out, so it must be good. Maybe I'll take it out of the library manana ;-)

Thanks for this post, Kate. The first time I became interested in classic film? Well, ever since I was a kid, I've loved the forties, but that was before I even got into old movies. But the first time old movies cast their spell was when I watched AFI's list of the 100 greatest movies in June of 2007. I love movies, always wanted to act in them, to watch them, so of course I had to see this list. And a lot of the movies they listed were old ones, that I had never seen. So then began my quest to watch them, and see how many I could see. I've managed to see quite a few, after I found TCM.

The first time I saw Casablanca was on Jan 17th, my 17th birthday of last year. I like to say that's my classic film anniversary. Roman Holiday first elicited a response from me when I watched it a month after Casablanca, on TCM's 31 Days of Oscar, and it istantly became my favorite. I treasure that movie and as you said about HTSAM, it changed my life b/c I fell in love with Audrey and Gregory.

And I'm terribly sorry about this extra long post!!! I get so crazy sometimes!

Anonymous said...

Cullen- 8th grade seems to be the year to discover old movies! Since Vertigo was the movie that got you started, are you a big Hitchcock fan?

DKoren- Thanks! I wish I could see South Pacific on the big screen! The only classic movies I've seen in theaters are Remember the Night, Meet John Doe, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Gold Rush and some short comedies at a local film festival. There's a big classic movie festival in NYC this month with a bunch of pre-codes but I couldn't afford the train fare to go back and forth almost every day! lol

Jacqueline- Thanks :) That should be it's own genre. It really is like a hybrid- part mystery, part crime, part comedy.

Raquelle- Thanks! You should give it another shot! You're the one who said we should give sixties films a second chance! I can see how Citizen Kane could get you hooked on classic movies. I actually didn't see it until two years ago, but then I couldn't believe it had taken me so long! It's a great film.

And yes, I am a British-TV-phile! I am in love with the Good Neighbors, completely. I also really like As Time Goes By and Fawlty Towers. But The Good Neighbors, I think, is my all-time favorite tv show.

Millie- I've probably seen it twenty times or more! Glad you like the painting :)

Reading Glasses- Thanks! You know, that song always gets stuck in my head, even when I haven't watched the movie in a while. Whoop, there it is! Rain drops keep fal.... ahhhh!

L.- thanks! My parents did, too, but they didn't really encourage me to become obsessed with them. I'd say "oh, who is that guy?" "Just a famous old actor, Kate." so I never really pursued it until I was 13. Now I've got my parents obsessed, too!

Sweet Pirate Betty- Thanks!!!

Genevieve- Thanks! So you discovered old movies around 8th grade, too? That makes three of us now! I wonder if it's the age to start discovering new interests or something. Is You'll Never Get Rich on DVD? I still haven't seen it yet!

Graciebird- Don't worry about the long post, I love reading them! You said you always wanted to act in movies-- are you studying to be an actress? I think if I could go back in time to the 30's I'd want to be an actress, but I wouldn't want to act in modern movies. Have you ever tried the theater? They revive a bunch of old plays (I saw Arsenic and Old Lace and Holiday at my local theater) and I'd think it would be so much fun to act out a part that you love in movies!

Lauren said...

how to steal a million is on my netflix que! awesome!

Raquel Stecher said...

You like As Time Goes By?! You are my new bestest friend ever. :-)

Anonymous said...

Lauren- come back and tell me if you like it after you've seen it!

Raquelle- lol! Do you like the British mysteries too? I think Foyle's War was the closest a newer show or movie has ever come to really capturing the 40's. I LOVE Michael Kitchen!

Ruby said...

Hi Kate!

I came through this site from your Etsy site up on searching for Audrey Hepburn's posters. I like this painting you did of her, a lot. =)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ruby!!

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joshjo27 said...

Audrey Hepburn shines in "How to Steal a Million" with her timeless charm and elegance. This delightful heist comedy is a stylish romp through the world of art forgery, with Hepburn and Peter O'Toole delivering charismatic performances. The film's witty script and clever plot twists keep viewers engaged, making it a must-watch for fans of classic cinema. "How to Steal a Million" is a delightful caper that showcases Hepburn's enduring appeal.
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johnstepan said...

In "How's it to Steal a Million," Audrey Hepburn shines with her classic grace and charisma. Hepburn and Peter O'Toole give captivating performances in this charming heist comedy, a sophisticated frolic through the world of art fraud. The film is a must-see over lovers of classic cinema because of its brilliant storyline twists and funny dialogue, which keep spectators interested. The welcoming escapade "How to Steal a Million" highlights Hepburn's continuing appeal..Divorce Lawyers Fairfax VA